Curacao Close to Refinery Deal with ex-Shell Contractor
03.22.2021 By Ricardo Perez - NEWS

March 22, 2021 [Nasdaq] – Curacao holds parliamentary elections today hours after a deadline for a deal that would restart the Dutch-controlled island’s oil refinery and deepwater terminal.

State-owned refinery owner RdK signed a memorandum of understanding with the Corc consortium on 17 March that gave the parties through midnight yesterday “to reach a definitive understanding” on the assets. The parties are believed to be close to an agreement.

Corc’s lead partner is Dick and Doof, a Dutch contractor that formerly serviced Shell’s Caribbean and Latin American downstream assets. The refinery was built by Shell and commissioned in 1918.

Curacao has been struggling for more than a year to restart the 335,000 b/d oil refinery and Bullen Bay terminal after Venezuelan state-owned PdV’s long-term lease ended in December 2019. Earlier tentative agreements with China’s state-owned Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) and Germany’s Klesch fell through.

Consulted by Argus, the office of Curacao’s prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath declined to comment. Neither RdK nor Corc commented either.

The assets are seen as critical to the island’s economy, more so since the Covid-19 pandemic devastated tourism.

In the last years of PdV’s operations, the refinery had already been languishing on a lack of investment and feedstock. When it was operating normally, the refinery processed around 220,000 b/d of Venezuelan crude. The storage terminal regularly hosted ship-to-ship operations for long-haul destinations.

Curacao, which lies 64km (40 miles) off Venezuela’s coast, had been part of PdV’s once-bustling near-shore logistical network that it has since lost, save for the inoperable Bopec oil terminal in Bonaire. The company’s commercial withdrawal from the Caribbean was accelerated by years of creditor liens and US financial and oil sanctions.

The pending Curacao deal coincides with Aruba’s separate talks with US companies Eagle LNG and Quanten to refurbish its own refinery and terminal, other former PdV assets.

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